The Amazing Race Finds Some Strangers In The Alps
In the French Alps, racers find plenty of snow, an abundance of gorgeous views, and a whole lot of vertigo.
What's This Place Called? I'm Blanc-ing On The Name
First order of business for this leg of the race: dress for the weather. The racers pile into one of Chamonix, France's many ski lodges to suit up for Alpine snows. Shopping bags full of new parkas, sunglasses, and snowpants await. The pants that have been selected for Brodie are evidently a few sizes too small, much to the delight of certain of his fellow racers, and not necessarily the ones you'd think.
Once everyone locates the specially-appointed cars intended to take them into the Alps, they're off for Les Grands Montets, a ski resort in the Mont Blanc massif. After choosing mountain guides and retrieving backpacks, which are stuffed with mountaineering gear -- and also baguettes, for some reason -- they'll ascend to the summit via gondola. Tyler and Korey and Team Frisbee -- arriving in first and second place -- respectively, make a lot of jokes about bro-ing down together, and also speculate on which one of them would get eaten first should the gondola crash, à la Alive.
The summit's a little bit vertigo-inducing all on its own, but it's nothing compared to the next thing they'll have to do: a racer from each team has to clip onto a set of cables and convey themselves across to a nearby cliff face to retrieve a clue. Several teams refer to it as a "zipline," but nobody's really zipping here; if anything, it's an inch-line, since they sort of have to inch their way across it.
For most of these teams, this is really no big deal. Some of them, including Ashley of Team Rooster Teeth, are even excited about it. But it's not as easy as it looks: in fact, when Ashley reaches out to snag the clue, she winds up dropping it, and we cut to commercial on a shot of the clue fluttering hundreds of feet to the bottom of the mountain. No word yet on whether they're going to make her go down after it.
I Throw My Hands Up In The Air Sometimes (While Holding A Baguette)
The thrilling resolution to Ashley's terrible clue-dropping catastrophe? Go out and get another one. Yawn.
Next up: racers choose between Dynamite (deliver some dynamite -- and the aforementioned random baguettes -- to demolition techs at the top of a very scary mountain ridge) or Campsite (assemble a...go on and guess). Almost everyone chooses Dynamite immediately, save for Burnie and Ashley, who decide that after weeks of third place, it's time to take a risk and see if they can pull ahead. They reason that if they're the only ones to choose Campsite, and they finish quickly, they could overtake everyone.
Dynamite turns out to be a fairly quick and simple task, if a little bit nervewracking. Kurt and Brodie hang onto first for now, with Tyler and Korey hot on their heels. A combination of vertigo, altitude sickness, and plain old panic sets in for Dana, who doesn't love the narrow footpaths, but she's never so out of it that she can't berate Matt.
Meanwhile, Sheri and Cole roll up to the summit and debate which one of them should go out on the inch-line to retrieve the clue. Sheri eventually takes that bullet since she feels like she hasn't been pulling her weight enough on the race so far, and also because, while she's terrified of heights, Cole is even more terrified than she is, which is difficult to imagine in the moment when she pauses mid-inch, looks down, and promptly freaks out.
Are We There, Yeti?
To nobody's surprise, Sheri sucks it up and finishes the task without incident (but with a few tears shed). She and Cole realize that Dynamite will be much quicker than Campsite, even though Cole's crippling fear of heights means he's going to make her reaction seem tame. Other racers are having an easier time acclimating to the altitude: Zach's fear of heights, he says, has evaporated entirely in light of the amazing view.
As Team Clevver gets ready to commence the Dynamite detour, they're a little puzzled about the directive to bring "lunch" to the dynamite crew. Most teams have figured out that they're meant to deliver the provided baguettes, but Erin and Joslyn aren't totally sure. Finding a random sack lunch stowed away in the gondola station, they think maybe this is what they're meant to take. (It's not; that's actually Phil's lunch, as he confirmed on Twitter.) Blair knows better, and she schools her dad when he wonders if they're missing a step: "I think people here eat baguettes for lunch." This may be the most indignant tone anyone has ever taken regarding baguettes.
After some deliberation, Sheri and Cole decide that they have no choice but to confront their crippling phobia of heights and take on Dynamite, since it will be infinitely faster than Campsite. Given that Burnie and Ashley are still the only people at Campsite and still haven't assembled the campsite to the judge's satisfaction, this seems like the right call.
When it's discovered that the Roadblock this week involves paragliding, Brodie stops short of sticking his face in the camera and screaming "EXTREEEEEME!," but he's still pretty jazzed about this, using the term "sick" to describe the task about a billion times. While the racers paraglide, they're meant to search the ground for a yeti (really just a guy in a gorilla suit) and then describe what he's doing to the task judge at the bottom of the mountain. Brodie takes the first shot at paragliding, trips, and faceplants in slow motion. "Are we doing it?" he asks the paragliding instructor as he sinks into the snowbank. (And is true of many other activities in life, if you have to ask someone whether you're doing it, you're probably not.) This enables Korey to take off successfully, ultimately snagging Team #1 status.
In another life, professional dancer Matt was a professional snowboarder. As he takes the paraglide, he reflects that he misses the mountains, and that he's loved the chance to see the Alps. "Stop having fun! We have stuff to do!" yells Dana when she spots him coming in for a landing.
Eventually, the only racers left at the Roadblock are Erin, Ashley, and Sheri, and it's going to come down to which can successfully take off first. "Don't fall down," Erin's instructor tells her. Ashley makes a break for it and immediately falls down.
Team Clevver's Race Comes To A Crashing Halt
Blair and Scott, checking in at the mat in an improbable fourth place, get casually needled by Phil about the #blodie shenanigans of last week, but Blair turns it around on Phil and asks him if HE has a favorite team. "I love you all equally," he assures her. No way could that possibly be true, but Blair seems to buy it.
Back on the race course, who will be the next racer to successfully take off? Improbably, it's Sheri, who sobs her way all the way down the slope and catches air at the last possible second.
Erin falls down again. Ashley is too tired to run. Now there's no wind. And finally, the grounded halves of the remaining teams spot one more figure floating toward them. Who's the mysterious floating figure who's finally figured it out? Is it Erin or Ashley?
It's Ashley. Erin appreciates the amazing view as she coasts to the finish line, and Team Clevver is eliminated.
In lieu of scenes from next week, Phil gives us a sneak peek at the entire rest of the season before signing off until April 1 to make room for March Madness. Great, what am I going to do now -- go out on Friday nights?
While packed with gorgeous mountain scenery, a preponderance of adrenaline tasks, and a decently suspenseful ending, there's really no reason to sit through all forty-five-or-so minutes of this. You're better off google-image-searching images of Mont Blanc for a while and then catching up on the last fifteen minutes. But hey, at least we didn't go into a three-week hiatus on a non-elimination cliffhanger.